Date Presented

Spring 5-8-2007

Document Type


Access Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Lorna Dawson

Second Advisor

Ed DeClair

Third Advisor

Tom Brickhouse


This paper examines actions of civil disobedience and the laws relevant to those actions. Each case study was tested against an operational definition of civil disobedience to see if these actions could be considered a legitimate expression of civil disobedience. The legitimacy of the laws was assessed through the use of two competing legal philosophies of H. L. A. Hart and Ronald Dworkin. Then, the public’s opinion of civil disobedience was measured through the use of polls and survey data. The results showed that the three cases did follow the guidelines of civil disobedience established by the literature, but the legal analysis split on many cases with Hart’s legal positivism approving of the laws that Dworkin’s moral dimension considered illegitimate. Also, the public opinion did not support the actions of civil disobedience in any of the three cases. It would seem that the public is more willing to support actions that are deemed legal than to support actions that are illegal but may be morally right.